Women, imagine taking one pill that helps you survive the dreaded week that comes around every month with ease, while clearing up acne and acting as a contraceptive.
Well, thanks to modern medicine, this seemingly miracle pill exists. Although the birth control pill is commonly known as a contraceptive, women can use it to help their bodies in other ways.
According to Pandia Health, the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Gregory Pincus and John Rock invented birth control pills in the 1950’s. However, other birth control methods date back to around 1850 BC when ancient Egyptians used ingredients like honey, acacia leaves and lint to create contraceptives.
Over the last few decades, scientists have found that birth control pills also have the ability to regulate periods, ease menstrual cramps, clear up acne and even balance hormone levels. This has helped many women feel better and more comfortable during their “times of the month.”
“I had periods that were very heavy, lasted 7-8 days and left me feeling sick to my stomach with cramps that sometimes made me miss out on activities,” Ferris pre-pharmacy sophomore Macy Ilmberger said. “My periods were also extremely irregular, sometimes coming twice a month and sometimes only coming once every three months. My decision to use birth control was purely for health reasons.”
Ilmberger has been taking birth control every day for almost two years, and the results took her by pleasant surprise.
“Since taking birth control, my periods have shortened to about four days, my flow has decreased considerably and my cramps are more mild and less frequent,” Ilmberger said. “It is also nice to know exactly when my period is going to come every month, since before I started taking birth control it was a bit of a guessing game. I no longer feel like my period affects my ability to complete everyday activities.”
Ferris television and digital media production junior Bethany Berger began using the pill about two and a half months ago to also help regulate her period. Berger hadn’t experienced a period in over two years before she started taking birth control.
Like any prescription medicine, birth control can have side effects that affect each individual differently.
“I have gained a little bit of weight since starting the pill, and my mood has been a little rough,” Berger said. “Obviously, [the mood changes occur] when I’m done with a round of the actual pills and am then taking the placebos, because it’s a loss of a hormone that my body had been getting used to.” Placebos taken while on the birth control pill are sugar pills taken in place of the contraceptive during the menstrual cycle.
For Ilmberger, she doesn’t experience any negative effects. However, Ilmberger does get cramps or an early period if she forgets to take the pill one day.
Surprisingly, both Ilmberger and Berger didn’t know about the other benefits of birth control until their doctors mentioned it. Since many women deal with similar issues, they believed it makes sense to see birth control advertised more.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, only 14% of women ages 15-49 take the pill.
“I think girls need to know that if their periods are out of control or their cramps hurt so badly that they can’t get up in the morning, there is something that can help fix that, not just a pain killer,” Ilmberger said. “Since society has largely treated periods as something disgusting that shouldn’t be talked about, girls are not always aware when their periods are not considered ‘normal.’ If birth control is advertised as something to treat period-related health issues, it would de-stigmatize the use of birth control as well.”
There are various forms of birth control besides the pill such as injections, intrauterine devices (IUDs), patches and more. Women, if you believe birth control is something that could help you, talk to your primary doctor for more information.